A cracking first day with Deb and Renate from Australia.
After Deb and Renate arrived yesterday from Ronda but due to works on the railway lines through Loja they were transferred to a coach in Antequera and then to a minibus on the motorway before arriving at the station we had a steady start and headed out at a decent time to our first site near the town of Molina. We searched a arable area of land and soon located our first target species the locally uncommon Rufous Bush Robin (Alzacola / Cercotrichas galactotes) which was singing very close to the road nearby so we rolled around towards it and had superb views. In the same area we picked up Gull-billed Tern (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus).
After getting great views of the Chat which sat nicely for the camera we headed along the motorway to Fuente de Piedra and stopped along side the pool on the entrance track and scanned through the birds and soon boosted the list with a lot of new species including Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Avocet (Avoceta Común / Recurvirostra avosetta), Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula), Wood Sandpiper (Andarrios Bastardo / Tringa glareola), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Little Stint (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta), Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina), Whiskered Tern (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chilidonias hybridus), Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) and Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis).
We decided to move on when two car loads of British birding brain deads pulled up and all piled out of the cars making loads of noise and flushing everything to the far bank and beyond.
We parked the car and walked down to the boardwalk and checked the waders on there and were pleased to quickly locate a very nice Temminck Stint (Correlimos de Temminck / Calidris temminckii) mixed in with several Littles and some Curlew Sandpipers (Correlimos Zarapitin / Calidris ferruginea). We also had another nice Wood Sand, a Whiskered Tern which did several nice close flypasts for the camera, lots more Gull-billed Terns, Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus) and a couple of enormous Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus). Our next stop was up at the mirador, on the way round we checked the ditch at the side of the lowere track and I was very pleased to find three tandem pairs and two sing male Dark Spreadwings (Lestes macrostigma) which were Dragonfly lifers for me. After getting a few shots of the dragons and checking the next pool and finding Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna) and Great Reed Warbler (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus) we reached the mirador where we soon found two of the reported Lesser Flamingo's (Flamenco Enano / Phoenicopterus minor) way out on the main salt lake. In the same area we saw Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) before a huge bus load of school kids arrived and we moved on around to the first hide. We settled down in there and again quickly started to find new species including Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Red-crested (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina) and Common Pochards (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris). On our way to the second hide we saw a couple of Black-veined White (Banca del Majuelo / Aporia crataegi), Large White (Pieris brassicae) and Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea). In the hide we saw more Gadwall, Red-crested Pochards, Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator), Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii), lots of Stripe-necked Terrapins (Mauremys leprosa) and Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). We returned to the mirador and found the Lesser Flamingo's again and walked back around the back and down the track passing the Spreadwings again and then whilst I tried to get some more shots of them Deb checked the board walk out and Renate went up to the visitors centre
where we met her a few minutes late seeing Yellow Bee Orchid (Orquídea Abejera / Ophrys lutea) by the steps. We returned to the car and checked the entrance road pool again hoping to find the Temmincks on there after it got flushed from the other pool but could not so we carried on around the western side of the lake to the mirador where we had luch whilst scanning the much reduced pool below. We added Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax) and Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Ground-pine Germander (Teucrium pseudochamaepitys), Navel-wort (Omphalodes commutata), Purple Bugloss (Echium plantagineum) and Southern Knapweed (Centaurea pullata ssp pullata) to the list from here before taking the road and the track across country to Laguna Dulce. During this drive we had very good viewd of a male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni), Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Crested (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris), Crown Daisy (Chrysanthemum carinatum var discolor), Wild Clary (Salvia verbenaca), Corn Poppy (Papaver rhoeas) and Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum).
When we reached the lake we headed around to the hide and scanned the waters but things were quite quite, even so we added Great Crested (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) and Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus) and Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) but nothing else new for the list.
Our last stop of the day was on the lower slopes of the Sierra de Loja where we checked the crags from the small quarry but could not locate the resident Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo) but we did see Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Orphean Warbler (Curruca Mirlano / Sylvia hortensis), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Iberian Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Moroccan Orange-tip (Anthocharis belia), Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes), Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Pyramidal Orchid (Orquidea Pyramidal / Anacamptis pyramidalia) and Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta lepida) before we headed back to the house and sat up on the terrace and finishing off with a brief view of a flying Red-necked Nightjar (Chotacabras Cuellirrojo / Caprimulgus ruficollis).